Eurozone 2020: Gareth Southgate gets a message from above

Jadon Sancho is an elder statesman; John McGinn on Steve Clarke’s surly face

A plane banner flies over St George’s Park during an England training session. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

A plane banner flies over St George’s Park during an England training session. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

 

Eyes to the heavens

It was in May of last year that a London-based man called Luke hired a plane to fly a 120 foot banner over his girlfriend’s house in Grimsby, having not seen her since the start of lockdown. “Meg you are my world I love you from Luke,” it read, not a comma in sight. How impressed was she? “She said she was happy with it,” he told the Grimsby Telegraph, a reaction that sounded less than ecstatic, to be honest, leaving you fearing Meg was actually mortified.

We mention this only because it came up in the Google while searching to find out how much it costs to hire banner-flying-planes. In Luke’s case, it was “£625 plus tax”, a cost that might have doubled if he had to fly another one that read “I’m so sorry for embarrassing you in front of all the neighbours Meg, please forgive me and unblock my number”.

Among the specialities of the company that Luke used, incidentally, are funeral banners - eg someone in Liverpool had “You did it your way Granny” flown over a graveyard as she was laid to rest - and football-related ones, so there’s a chance, if they’re a Europe-wide business, and not a Brexity one, they were responsible for the banner that flew over the Dutch training camp at the weekend. “Frank, just play 4-3-3,” it read, beseeching coach De Boer to abandon his flirtation with a 5-3-2 system.

An expensive enough way to express your feelings about a football formation, it has to be said, but at least the person who paid for a banner to be flown over England training at St George’s Park in Burton upon Trent spent their loot wisely, imparting potentially critical information to Gareth Southgate and Co: “Most Croatia goals come down the left.” Worth every penny of the £625 plus tax.

Quote of the day

“Would you call me young? I’m 21 now.” England veteran Jadon Sancho.

By the numbers

2.05 - That’s the time Boris Johnson’s handlers scheduled his G7 summit press conference for Sunday …. five minutes after kick-off in England’s opening Euro 2020 game. Doh.

Lottery numbers please

Uefa are running a ‘Match Predictor’ competition in which, yes, people are invited to predict the outcome of matches. For the opening game between Italy and Turkey on Friday, one particular Italian tweeter by the name of ‘VaneJuice’ forecast that Italy would win 3-0 and that their goalscorers would be Merih Demiral (own goal), Lorenzo Insigne and Ciro Immobile.

The actual result? Italy won 3-0 and their goalscorers were Merih Demiral (own goal), Lorenzo Insigne and Ciro Immobile. Yes, he even got the identity of the own-goal-scorer right.

“I’m no football expert, I just got lucky,” insisted a modest VaneJuice, who has since been inundated with requests for winning Lottery numbers.

Word of mouth

“You do always compare yourself with the best in your sport, just as the baker compares himself with the best bakers around him. Who makes the best croissant, the best pain au chocolat?” Kylian Mbappe with an analogy that only a French man could make.

“You’ll think I’m getting carried away and say I’ve lost the plot …. but I’ve absolutely convinced myself that this is Scotland’s time and Steve Clarke and his players are about to achieve something really quite special over the next few weeks.” Former Scotland captain Barry Ferguson. It’s the hope that kills you.

“You don’t know how to take him because he always looks angry. You’re thinking: ‘is he gonna be mental?’ But he’s not, he’s just calm. That’s just his resting face, looking angry all the time.” Scotland midfielder John McGinn on Clarke’s not-so-happy face.

No frisbees allowed

Uefa’s list of items that are prohibited from the Euro 2020 fanzones sprinkled around the continent is quite a lengthy and quirky one. There are some not hugely surprising inclusions - eg was it really necessary to list “explosives or ammunition”? - but a few are, well, a little odd. Here’s a flavour:

“Frisbees, psychoactive substances, scooters, skateboards, bicycles, spray cans, large industrial style permanent marker pens, prams/push chairs, radios, drones, large suitcases, illegal charity collection utensils, motor bike helmets, darts, candles, barbeques, Chinese lanterns, alcohol, air horns, klaxons, megaphones, selfie sticks, animals (except service dogs and guide dogs) and inappropriate clothing.”

Also, sadly for the Glasgow fanzone, musical instruments “capable of causing a disturbance or nuisance” are banned. No offence, but that’s bagpipes gone, then.

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